President Obama on Wednesday suggested that his position on same-sex marriage may “evolve” over time during a news conference with progressive bloggers.
“But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine,” Obama said. “And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships.”
The president said he’s a “strong supporter of civil unions” and has been “unwilling to sign on” to support for same-sex marriage because of his “understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage.”
Obama, who opposes same-sex marriage, made the comments in response to question from Joe Sudbay, deputy editor of AMERICABlog, was among the bloggers invited to the news conference. Read the complete transcript of Sudbay’s question-and-answer session on LGBT issues with Obama here.
Discussion of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” also made up a significant portion of the conference. Obama sidestepped a question on whether he thinks “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is constitutional. The president said “it’s not a simple yes or no question” because he’s not sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the president deemed the law unconstitutional, he could discontinue enforcement of the statute, although the courts would have the final say in the matter.
“Here’s what I can say,” Obama added. “I think ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is wrong. I think it doesn’t serve our national security, which is why I want it overturned. I think that the best way to overturn it is for Congress to act.”
Emphasizing that his “hope and expectation” is that Congress can repeal the statute, Obama said he’s been “as systematic and methodical” as he can in trying to move forward with mitigating the impact “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” given his legal constraints.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued new guidance on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that limits the authority on discharges to the civilian service secretary of the department concerned. Further, these secretaries can only make discharges “in coordination” with the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and the Pentagon’s general counsel.
Obama said he would “be involved” in pushing the Senate to move forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation this year after Election Day, but declined to comment on whether support from Defense Secretary Robert Gates would be part of this process.
“I’m not going to tip my hand now,” Obama said. “But there is a strategy.”
Referencing the Log Cabin Republicans’ litigation against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Obama said he doesn’t “understand the logic” of the lawsuit and said he needs the organization to find Republican votes to move forward with legislative repeal in the Senate.
“You’re financing a very successful, very effective legal strategy, and yet the only really thing you need to do is make sure that we get two to five Republican votes in the Senate,” Obama said.
Obama also took at dig at those who don’t think he’s doing enough on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and other LGBT issues and said he doesn’t “think that the disillusionment is justified.”
“So I don’t begrudge the LGBT community pushing, but the flip side of it is that this notion somehow that this administration has been a source of disappointment to the LGBT community, as opposed to a stalwart ally of the LGBT community, I think is wrong,” Obama said.